LDWF Enforcement Agent’s Work Pays Off With Conviction of Three Men Illegally Taking Fish in the Pearl River
story by Adam Einck, LDWF Public Information
Darryl Galloway knows firsthand good investigative police work isn’t what you see on television. During Louisiana’s notoriously hot and humid summers, Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries Enforcement Division agents spend countless hours outdoors probing illegal activity day and night.
Galloway, a sergeant with the LDWF Enforcement Division, battled heat, humidity and biting insects in the Pearl River during the summer of 2015 to apprehend three men in the most shocking of cases. In doing so, he proved how valuable patient police work and good tips from concerned citizens can be.
After spending more than half a year investigating a lead into potential illegal shocking of fish in the Pearl River, Galloway collected enough evidence for an open and shut case.
Galloway first received a tip from the Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries and Parks (MDWFP) about men illegally taking fish by means of shocking in Marion and Pearl River counties in Mississippi and Washington Parish in Louisiana in January of 2015. After gathering more specific information over the course of the investigation, Galloway was then able to setup surveillance looking out over the Pearl River at the end of July and beginning of August of 2015.
After being on stakeout every day for almost two weeks in the sweltering heat, with swarming insects and sitting in uncomfortable positions for hours on end, he finally saw and recorded what he was so patiently and persistently on the lookout for. He observed three men in a 14-foot aluminum boat looking very suspicious while in a bend in the river.
“I had a great spot set up on a place the locals call Hunt’s Bluff, which is about 10-feet high and 10 to 15 yards from the river,’’ Galloway said. “I used camo netting and a small tree on the bluff to not be seen. As soon as I saw the three men they fit the description and they were constantly looking around a lot to make sure no one was watching what they were about to do. Unfortunately for them, someone was looking and recording their every move. It was like catching Santa Claus about to eat a cookie on Christmas.”
Galloway spent the next few hours recording the men using a long electrical wire attached to a 12-volt electrical supply system that ran through an electrical power converter mounted inside a snuff can before being attached to a chain to illegally land fish on both the Louisiana and Mississippi sides of the Pearl River.
He then witnessed how the three men worked as a team. One man operated the vessel in a slow zig zag motion up and down the river, another dipped the electrical charged chain up and down in the water column while another man used a net to land incapacitated fish as they came to the surface.
After the men were done, Galloway observed them travel to a nearby camp on the Louisiana side of the river. He quickly made his way back to his truck and changed from his camouflaged clothes into his patrol uniform to make contact with the three men.
“When I arrived at the camp I was able to contact and positively identify the three men whom I witnessed illegally fishing in the river,” Galloway said. “At first they weren’t very cooperative until I showed them the video. After that, they cooperated the rest of the way.”
Galloway cited Lance O. Davis, 43, of Poplarville, Miss., James A. Howard, 53, of Poplarville, Miss., and Howard D. Restor, 42, of Lumberton, Miss., for taking fish using illegal methods and a federal Lacey Act violation for transporting illegally taken fish from Mississippi to Louisiana on Aug. 11, 2015. He found the men in possession of 24 catfish filets, one whole catfish and other catfish parts. LDWF agents seized the fish, and Howard’s 14-foot boat, shocking device and 25 horsepower motor.
Davis pleaded guilty in Washington Parish Court in March of 2016 to one count of taking fish using illegal methods. He was ordered to pay a fine of $450 plus court costs or spend 30 days in jail.
Howard pleaded guilty in Washington Parish Court in February of 2016 to two counts of failing to comply with personal flotation device requirements and one count of possessing illegally taken fish. He was ordered to pay a $400 fine plus court costs or spend 30 days in jail.
Rester pleaded guilty in Washington Parish Court in December of 2016 to one count of possessing illegally taken fish. He was ordered to pay a $500 fine or 30 days in jail.
None of the men opted for jail and agreed to pay their fines according to Washington Parish Sheriff’s Department records. Also, the men forfeited their boat, shocking device and motor to the state.
“I was very pleased with Washington Parish’s court punishments in this case and am proud of the evidence that I collected led to guilty pleas,” Galloway said. “This case was a lot of hard work and was very grueling at times, but in the end it was worth it and I hope it makes someone think twice before illegally shocking fish again.”
Galloway also said that receiving tips from the MDWFP agents and the public were very helpful in getting the surveillance evidence used in this case.
“I received multiple reports from people that were tired of them shocking fish,” Galloway said. “Got a tip the day before they were caught that they would be going to shock fish soon for an upcoming fish fry they had planned. So I knew it was only a matter of time before they got caught red-handed.”
Shocking fish is not a legal method of take mainly because it is impossible to target one species of fish and a few fishermen can wipe out an entire ecosystem of fish with minimal effort. When someone shocks fish they harm other species of fish that may or may not be legal because of size and season requirements to name a few. Fishing with electric current also makes it an unfair advantage for the angler and populations of gamefish could be decimated with such an unsportsmanlike method of take.
Sgt. Darryl Galloway is an 18-year veteran with the LDWF Enforcement Division and mainly patrols Washington Parish.
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